351 Update from the Interim Rector March 2022
The most current progress report we received from the Architects states that 351 is 85% complete. It has been a long time in coming and we have faced may challenges, most of them completely unexpected. And all of them costly in terms of time and money. However, the resulting building will be far superior to what it was. After all, it was built at the end of the 19th century and Epiphany is nearing completion of a full gut renovation that is taking that 19th century building and turning it into a 21st century building while retaining the historic façade as requested by the New York Landmarks Commission.
By the end of May 2022, just twelve weeks from now, the parish will have left the building that has served and supported it for nearly 85 years and begin the journey of living more fully into the resources and opportunities the facility at 351 E. 74th Street makes possible. Spread over 6 floors with 35,000 square feet of space, the parish will be far better positioned to serve the needs of those who are food insecure through the Wednesday Night Dinner Program and the Carter Burden Senior Luncheon program. The new kitchen is designed and equipped to prepare up to 1,000 meals a day. One hundred and twenty-five of those meals will be served on site in the parish hall. The rest of the meals will be delivered to home bound seniors. Community Supported Agriculture will also continue to find a home at Epiphany as they bring farm fresh produce every week to our neighbors . The Church of the Epiphany Day School will have more room to grow our school, providing a range of opportunities for the families in the neighborhood. In addition to the traditional Monday-Friday Preschool that is such a part of our parish identity, there will be the space and human resources to add summer programs and after-school programs to reach an even larger demographic. The Epiphany Choirs (Adult, Choristers, and Cherubs) will finally have a real choir room that is acoustically tuned and where they can gather, learn and rehearse the beautiful and soul-enriching music they gift to us; not only on Sunday morning, but in special services such as Evensong, Vespers and Compline. The space at 351 will also make it possible to resurrect the Epiphany Arts Program. Work is already underway to relaunch this well-regarded expression of our ministry. The list goes on and one, and your new Rector, along with Mo. Elise and the Vestry will have the joy of exploring and discerning with each of you Epiphany’s new life in its new building.
While the building is 85% complete, there is still a lot of work to do and Shawmut, our Construction Managers, are working with the vendors and sub-contractors through extended workdays and six-day-a-week work scheduling. While Covid and the many unforeseen conditions we encountered as we gutted the building has delayed us a full year, the end is truly in sight.
Throughout the course of this mammoth project, I have often thought of Jeremiah’s words to the Israelites in Jeremiah 29. When Jeremiah gave this prophecy, Israel was again living in slavery, not in Egypt, but this time in Babylon. Defected in 516 BCE the land was left desolate, and the people of the land taken as slaves. It is now seventy years later and through Jeremiah, God declares to Israel, “thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease…. 11 For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”
God know the plans God has for the Church of the Epiphany and you and I have been privileged to watch those plans unfold over the last three years. Soon, very soon, it will be our turn to do what the Israelites did so long ago and go into the place God has been preparing for us and discover with each turning of the day all that God has yet to gift to us and through us so that all my know it is God’s heart desire to give Epiphany a future with hope knowing that when we call upon God, God will hear. And will answer.